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Seed Grant

Grants to North Carolina High-Tech Companies
to Promote Start-Up Development

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Grants of $50,000 in non-dilutive funding to North Carolina businesses working in a range of hi-tech fields for start-up funding. Pre-proposals are due February 26. This grant program supports business activities that reduce risks usually associated with early-stage companies, validate target markets, and help companies get to the point of suitability for growth funding; be that crowd funding, angel or venture capital investment.

Companies selected will spend subsequent weeks after their award date working with NC IDEA to solidify an appropriate use of funds, milestones, and a timeline. Grant recipients will provide written and in-person progress report updates prior to the release of each tranche. Beyond grant funding, NC IDEA partners with grant recipients to provide advice and make introductions to its wide network of advisors, partners and investors. Grant recipients are also invited to participate in workshops and speaker sessions when NC IDEA LABS is in session.

When evaluating an NC IDEA SEED grant application, NC IDEA assesses the strengths and weaknesses of a company across the following areas:

-Size and significance of problem being addressed
-Benefits, strength and uniqueness of solution

-Stage of development
-Intellectual property

Market and Business Model
-Customer profile
-Revenue and pricing models
-Size of market and market opportunity
-Sales strategy
-Competitive advantage
-Number, size and strength of competitors

-Stage of development
-Current/expected revenues
-Customer discovery
-Accomplishments to-date

-Quality of management team
-Experience of management team
-Completeness of management team
-Commitment of team
-Quality of advisors

Grant Request and Funding
-Use of grant funds
-Impact of grant funds
-Prior funding
-Future funding potential

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 145633

Number of Grants:

Each grant cycle, NC IDEA will select between 5-6 companies.

Estimated Size of Grant:

NC IDEA SEED provides $50,000 in non-dilutive funding to selected companies.

Term of Contract:

Grant funds will typically be released over the span of 6-12 months in four separate milestone-based tranches.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:


Grants are specifically targeted at young ventures in the State of North Carolina. Applicants must either 1) conduct a majority of corporate operations in North Carolina or 2) plan to relocate to North Carolina.

Selected companies must agree to maintain the majority of corporate operations in the State of North Carolina for at least 2 years after receiving grant funding.


NC IDEA provides seed grants to innovative companies with proprietary intellectual property or other means of sustained competitive advantage that are solving large problems.

Qualified companies typically fall under one of the following business categories:
-Computer/Digital Hardware
-Consumer Products
-Digital Media
-Healthcare IT
-Medical Device
-Medical Diagnostics
-Nanotechnology/Advanced Materials
-Social Media

Companies with high capital requirements and a long runway to commercialization, such as pharmaceutical companies, are less likely to be considered. Other companies that are considered out of scope and not eligible for grant funding include consulting practices or agencies; local, service-oriented small businesses (i.e. restaurants, retail stores) and other “lifestyle” companies; and not-for-profits.

Market Opportunity:

NC IDEA prefers companies addressing large, rapidly growing market opportunities, with a unique value proposition and a scalable business model.

Stage of Development:

The optimal stage for a company is between proof of concept and first institutional funding. Ideally, an applicant will have demonstrated external validation of efficacy or utility for its intended product/service. NC IDEA does not fund “science projects” that have not yet demonstrated a clear path to commercialization.


Competitive applicants have at least one or more fully committed team member. Experience working in or on a previous startup, as well as domain expertise, is favorable as well – but not required.

Prior and Future Investment:

NC IDEA funding is intended to help early stage companies accomplish specific milestones that demonstrate to investors and other funding sources that the company has high potential. Therefore, companies that have received greater than $250,000 in investment at the time of applying, particularly from sophisticated angels or institutional investors, are less likely to be considered.

NC IDEA does however, consider founder and “friends and family” funding differently, and such funding will not negatively impact consideration.

Pre-proposal Conference:

The following information sessions are available:

-January 16 – Triad NC IDEA SEED Info Session hosted by Launch Greensboro (Registration Opening Soon)

-January 22, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM EST – Research Triangle NC IDEA SEED Info Session hosted by NC IDEA

-January 25 – Wilmington NC IDEA SEED Info Session hosted by NC IDEA:

-January 30 – Charlotte NC IDEA SEED Info Session hosted by Ventureprise (Registration Opening Soon)

-January 31 – Asheville NC IDEA SEED Info Session hosted by Venture Asheville

Pre-Application Information:

NC IDEA solicits seed grant applications twice per year, typically in February and again in August. The application window is open for approximately 4 weeks. All applicants are required to complete NC IDEA’s pre-proposal, which can be accessed online during each active application cycle. NC IDEA uses an online application portal that allows applicants to create an account so applications may be saved, reviewed and submitted prior to the stated deadline. The pre-proposal asks you to provide detail on various aspects of your company. The pre-proposal application has character count restrictions requiring you to provide clear, concise answers. Typically, between 150-180 companies will apply and submit a pre-proposal each grant cycle.

Following the application deadline, pre-proposals will be reviewed by a review team including NC IDEA staff, NC IDEA fellows, investors and other partners in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Companies will be notified of their status and receive specific feedback on their application. Typically, 20-30 applicants will be selected to progress to the semi-finalist phase. Semi-finalists will have a week to 10 days to complete a “full proposal” allowing them to elaborate on information in their pre-proposal and incorporate feedback from the reviewers.

Full proposals will allow semi-finalists to update their previous application without restrictions on character counts, although being concise is still highly encouraged. Each semi-finalist will also schedule a 15-minute phone interview with NC IDEA.

Full proposals are then reviewed by a review team. Approximately 10-12 semi-finalists will become finalists and be invited to pitch to NC IDEA’s review team. Each company will be given 10 minutes to pitch and have 15 minutes for Q&A.

Spring 2018 Grant Cycle:
-February 12: Spring 2018 NC IDEA SEED Grant Cycle Opens
-February 26: NC IDEA SEED Grant Application Submission Deadline. All pre-proposals must be submitted and received by 5:00 PM EST (no exceptions)
-March 16: Notifications and Full Proposal Invitations Sent
-March 26: Full Proposal Submission Deadline
-April 18: Notifications and Finalist Invitations Sent
-April 23-25: Pitch Scrub Sessions
-April 27: Finalist Presentations
-May 2: Notifications and NC IDEA SEED Grant Recipients Announced

Program Page:



Application Criteria:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register for the January 22 Info Session:

Register for the January 25 Info Session:

Register for the January 31 Info Session:

320 Blackwell Street
Suite 400, Durham, NC 27701


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: North Carolina

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